The much anticipated 2011 Man Booker longlist contenders were chosen from 138 suggested works of fiction. This reader's dozen includes 13 authors that are vying for the coveted Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The longlist of authors includes one former Man Booker prize winner, two previously shortlisted authors, one former longlisted writer, four debut novelists and three Canadian authors. Check out the list below, get reading and place your bets now!
shortlisted in 2005 for Arthur and George, 1988 for England England, and 1984 for Flaubert's Parrot
On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
shortlisted in 2008 for The Secret Scripture and 2005 for A Long Long Way
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
longlisted in 2003 for Turn Again Home
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (Canadian author)
Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (Canadian author)
A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvvette Edwards (debut novelist)
The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
Man Booker winner in 2004 for The Line of Beauty and shortlisted in 1994 for Folding Star
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman (debut novelist)
The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness (debut Canadian novelist)
Snowdrops by A.D. Miller (debut novelist)
Far to Go by Alison Pick (Canadian author)
The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
Derby Day by D.J. Taylor
On September 6th, the longlist will be whittled down to a mere six to make up the 2011 Man Booker shortlist. The winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be broadcast live on the BBC on October 18th. Along with the bragging rights, the winner takes home £50,000, the shortlisters get £2,500 and all six will receive a designer bound edition of their book!
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
To celebrate the 2011 Man Booker longlist, Random House Canada has a copy of The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes to give to a lucky Bookalicious reader who leaves a comment below. If you've read any of the books on the 2011 Man Booker longlist then let us know.
YUMMY RULES AND REGULATIONS
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm EDT on August 8, 2011. This contest is open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email address email@example.com as a "safe sender" when you enter a Bookalicious giveaway and respond within 1 week of notice to claim your prize!
Wanda Lynne Young"
Bestselling author Danielle Steel's novels have always been a sure thing on the summer reading lists. Summer 2011 is no exception with her new novel Happy Birthday popping out from the bookstore shelves, no doubt conjuring up bittersweet memories of new beginnings, births and blessings. Birthdays mark the passage of time, celebrate milestones and promise new horizons, but they can also hint at loss, regret or remind us of things we would rather forget. This reminds me of a quote:
Pleas'd to look forward,
pleas'd to look behind,
And count each birthday
with a grateful mind.
- Alexander Pope
In Happy Birthday, Steel introduces us to Valerie, April and Jack. Each character is at a crossroad in their lives and their birthdays promise a new beginning. Read the excerpt below for insights into Valerie's story and don't forget to enter the book giveaway!
Chapter 1 Excerpt
November first was a day Valerie Wyatt dreaded every year, or at least for the last two decades, since she turned forty. She had successfully staved off the potential ravages of time, and no one who saw her would have guessed that she had turned sixty when she woke up that morning. She had been discreetly shedding years for a while and it was easy to believe her creativity about her age. People magazine had recently said she was fifty-one years old, which was bad enough. Sixty was beyond thinking and she was grateful that everyone seemed to have forgotten the right number. Valerie did everything she could to confuse them. She had had her eyes done for the first time when she turned forty and then again fifteen years later. The results were excellent. She looked rested and fresh, as though she had been on a terrific vacation. She had had the surgery done in L.A. during a summer hiatus. She had also had her neck done when she was fifty, giving her a smooth, youthful neckline with no sag anywhere, and her plastic surgeon agreed that she didn't need a full face-lift. She had great bones, good skin, and the eye and neck work had given her the effect she wanted. Botox shots four times a year added to her youthful looks. Daily exercise and a trainer three times a week kept her long, lean body toned and unmarked by age. If she had wanted to, she could have claimed to be in her forties, but she didn't want to seem ridiculous, and was content to knock nine years off her age. People also knew that she had a thirty-year-old daughter, so she couldn't stretch the truth too far. Fifty-one worked.
It took time, effort, maintenance, and money to maintain her appearance. It served her vanity, but it was also important for her career. Valerie had been the number-one guru of style and gracious living during a thirty-five-year career. She had started as a writer for a decorating magazine when she got out of college, and she had turned it into an intense dedication. She was the high priestess of how to entertain and for everything that went on in the home. She had licensing arrangements for fine linens, furniture, wallpaper, fabrics, exquisite chocolates, and a line of mustards. She had written six books on weddings, decorating, and entertaining and had a show that had among the highest ratings on TV. She had planned three White House weddings when presidential daughters and nieces got married, and her book on weddings had been number one on the New York Times nonfiction list for fifty-seven weeks. Her arch-competitor was Martha Stewart, but Valerie was in a class unto herself, although she'd always had deep respect for her rival. They were the two most important women in their field.
Valerie lived exactly the way she preached. Her Fifth Avenue penthouse, with a sweeping view of Central Park, and an important collection of contemporary art, looked camera ready at all times and so did she. She was obsessed with beauty. People wanted to live the way she told them to, women wanted to look the way she did, and young girls wanted a wedding just the way Valerie would have done it, or as she instructed them to do on her show and in her books. Valerie Wyatt was a household name. She was a beautiful woman, had a fabulous career, and lived a golden life. The only thing missing in her life was a man, and she hadn't been involved with anyone in three years. The thought of that depressed her that morning too. No matter how good she looked, the age on her driver's license was what it was, and who would want a woman of sixty? Even men in their eighties wanted girls in their twenties now. With this birthday, Valerie felt she had become obsolete. It wasn't a pleasant thought, and she wasn't happy today.
She looked in the mirror intently as she prepared to leave her apartment that morning. She didn't have to be in the studio until noon for a taping, and she had two appointments before that. She was hoping the first one would cheer her up. And the only thing keeping her from a major panic attack was that at least no one knew her right age. But she was depressed anyway. She was relieved that the image she saw in the mirror reassured her that her life wasn't over yet. She wore her blond hair in a chic well-cut bob that framed her face, and had it colored regularly. She never had roots. It was the same color it always had been, and her figure was superb. She carefully selected a red wool coat from the closet to put over the short black dress she was wearing that showed off her spectacular long legs, and she was wearing sexy high heels from Manolo Blahnik. It was a great look and would be elegant and fashionable when she taped her show later that day.
The doorman hailed a cab for her when she left the apartment and she gave the driver an address on the Upper West Side. It was in a seedy neighborhood, and she noticed the driver looking at her admiringly in the rearview mirror. She was pensive as they sped through Central Park. The weather in New York had turned chilly two weeks before, the leaves had turned, and the last of them were falling off the trees. The red wool coat she was wearing looked and felt just right. Valerie was looking out the window of the cab as the radio droned on, and they exited from the park on the West Side. And then she felt an electric current run through her as she heard the announcer's voice.
"My, my, my, I never would have believed it, and I'll bet you won't either. She looks terrific for her age! Guess who's turning sixty today? Valerie Wyatt! Now that is a surprise! Good work, Valerie, you don't look a day over forty-five." She felt as though the announcer had just punched her in the stomach. Hard! She couldn't believe it. How the hell did he know? Their researchers must check DMV records, she thought with a sinking feeling. It was the most popular morning radio talk show in New York, and everyone would know. She wanted to tell the driver to turn it off, but what difference would that make? She had already heard it, and so had half of New York. The whole world knew now that she was sixty years old. Or at least the better part of New York. It was humiliating beyond words, she fumed to herself. Was nothing private anymore? Not when you were as famous as Valerie Wyatt and had your own TV show, and had for years. She wanted to cry as she sat in the backseat wondering how many other radio shows it would be on, how many TV shows, what newspapers it would be in, or celebrity roundups announcing whose birthday it was and how old they were. Why didn't they just sky-write it over New York?
She was frowning as she paid the cab driver and gave him a handsome tip. The day was off to a miserable start for her, and she never liked her birthday anyway. It was always a disappointing day, and despite her fame and success, she had no man to spend it with. She had no date or boyfriend, no husband, and her daughter was always too busy working to go out for dinner. And the last thing she wanted to do was make an issue of her age with friends. She was planning to spend the night at home alone, in bed.
She hurried up the dilapidated steps of the familiar brownstone, nearly tripping on a chipped step, and pushed the button on the intercom. The name on the bell was Alan Starr. Valerie came here at least twice a year and called between visits to boost her spirits or when she was bored. After she rang, a voice filtered into the chilly November air.
"Darling?" It was a happy voice, and he sounded excited to see her.
"It's me," she confirmed, and he buzzed her in. She pushed open the heavy door once it unlocked, and hurried up the stairs to the second floor. The building was old and looked tired, but was clean. He was waiting in an open doorway and threw his arms around her, grinning broadly. He was a tall, handsome man in his early forties with electric blue eyes and shoulder-length brown hair. And despite the shabby address, he was somewhat well known around town.
"Happy birthday!" he said, hugging her close to him as he smiled with a look of genuine pleasure to see her. She pulled away, scowling at him unhappily.
"Oh shut up. Some asshole on the radio just told the whole goddamn world how old I am today." She looked on the verge of tears as she marched into the familiar living room, where several large Buddhas and a white marble statue of Quan Yin sat on either side of two white couches with a black lacquer coffee table between them. There was a distinct smell of incense in the room.
"What do you care? You don't look your age! It's just a number, darling," he reassured her as she tossed her coat onto the couch.
"I care. And I am my age, that's the worst part. I feel a hundred years old today."
"Don't be silly," Alan said as he sat down on the couch opposite her. There were two decks of cards on the table. Alan was said to be one of the best psychics in New York. She felt silly coming to him, but she trusted some of his predictions, and most of the time he cheered her up. He was a loving, warm person with a good sense of humor, and a number of famous clients. Valerie had come to him for years and a lot of what he predicted actually came true. She started her birthday with an appointment with him every year. It took some of the sting out of the day, and if the reading was good, it gave her something to look forward to. "You're going to have a fabulous year," he said reassuringly as he shuffled the deck of cards. "All the planets are lined up for you. I did an astrological reading for you yesterday, and this is going to be your absolutely best year." He pointed to the cards. She knew the drill. They had done this many times. "Pick five and place them face down," he said, as he put the deck down in front of her, and she sighed. She picked the five cards, left them face down, and Alan turned them over one by one. There were two aces, a ten of clubs, a two of hearts, and the jack of spades.
"You're going to make a lot of money this year," he said with a serious expression. "Some new licensing agreements. And your ratings are going to be fantastic on the show." He said pretty much the same thing every year, and so far he'd been right. But in her case, that was easy to predict. Valerie's gracious living empire was sound.
"What's with the jack of spades?" They both knew she'd wanted a man in her life since her last relationship ended. She had been divorced for twenty-three years, and had devoted more time and energy to her career than to romance. But she missed being involved with someone, and was disappointed that no one had turned up in years. She was beginning to think that no one ever would again. Maybe she was too old. She certainly felt it now.
"I think one of your lawyers might retire," Alan said about the jack of spades. "Give me five more."
This time the king of hearts showed up, and the queen of diamonds. Alan smiled.
"Well, that's interesting. I see a new man," he said, smiling wider, and she shrugged, unimpressed.
"You've been saying it for three years."
"Patience, darling, patience. It's worth waiting for the right one. I like this man. He's important, powerful, very tall, and good-looking. I think you're going to meet him through your work." Valerie laughed at that.
"Not in my business. Any guy involved in decorating, lifestyle in the home, or the wedding industry is not likely to be straight. I'm going to have to meet him somewhere else."
"Maybe he's one of your producers," Alan said, concentrating on the cards. "I definitely think you're going to meet him through work." He had said that before, and no one had appeared. His other predictions were often true, but lately not about men. "I think your daughter might have a baby this year," he said, turning over the queen of diamonds and handing her the deck again. Valerie smiled and shook her head.
"I don't think that's going to happen. She works harder than I do. She doesn't even have time to date. She's not married, and I'm not at all sure she wants a husband or a child." Nor was Valerie anxious to be a grandmother--that was definitely not on her wish list or her radar screen, and fortunately it was not on her daughter's either. Alan was off on that one.
"I think she might surprise you," Alan said, as Valerie turned over five more cards and the reading continued. It was similar to what he always predicted for her, success in business, a new man on the scene, and an assortment of small warnings about upcoming projects and deals and people she worked with. But this time the new man came up several times. Alan was adamant about it, and Valerie sighed as she listened. People always told her that she couldn't have everything, a fabulous career and romance in her life too. Life just didn't work that way. No one got everything they wanted, they said, and Valerie hadn't either. Like most people, her success hadn't come easily, and in her case she had wound up alone. The two of them chatted as she continued to turn over the cards, and Alan told her what he saw ahead for her. Most of it was good. Her health wasn't a problem, he said, and as usual her ratings would soar. He saw some kind of production deal in the Far East, possibly a line of furniture, that would be advantageous for her, and it was obvious as he read for her that he genuinely liked her. She was honest, direct, and fair. Some people said she was tough, but it was mostly a standard of excellence that she applied to herself and everyone else. Valerie drove herself and everyone around her hard. She hadn't gotten to the top of her field by accident. She had crawled up the mountain for thirty-five years, with sheer hard work and a certain kind of genius and unfailing instinct about what she did. Alan admired her for that. He loved how straightforward she was. She didn't play games, or hide. What you saw was what you got. And he didn't need the cards to know how upset she was about her age today. Valerie said several times that sixty just seemed so goddamn old, and now everyone was going to know. He could see that the very thought of it made her want to cry.
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Random House Canada has one copy of HAPPY BIRTHDAY to give to a lucky Bookalicious reader who leaves a comment below.
Yummy Rules and Regulations
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until July 31, 2011. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email firstname.lastname@example.org as a "safe sender" when you enter a Bookalicious giveaway and respond within 1 week to claim your prize!
Wanda Lynne Young"
In 1978, I remember all the media ballyhoo surrounding the first successful birth of a "test-tube baby" in Great Britain. I recall there were ethical dilemmas and debates surrounding the little girl named Louise Joy Brown. People worried about the stigma that would follow her. They wondered why her parents would go to such extraordinary lengths to conceive a child. Looking back at it now all the hoopla seems laughable, especially when you take into account just how far we've come with medical advances in the area of fertility.
In the novel Then Came You, bestselling author Jennifer Weiner takes on modern day parenting and infertility issues dealing with surrogacy, donorship, and parental rights. These roles are not always perceived as acts of kindness due to the financial gain that comes with the egg donor or surrogate's sacrifice. Infertile couples, or a single person wanting a child can access these services to help them fulfill their dream of becoming a parent, but it does come at a financial price. Then Came You looks at a different type of price paid by the egg donor and the surrogate as well.
For some people, the whole notion of surrogacy and donorship makes them think of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood which tells the story about young women whose slave like purpose in life is to carry the children for their owners. For infertile couples, these options and in vitro fertilization are viewed with a positive perspective since they give them hope and make it possible for them to make their dreams of parenthood come true.
India is a 43-year old woman who is trying to reinvent herself. She is newly married to a wealthy older man. She feels her fairy tale will be complete if she seals the deal with a child. There's a glitch with her pregnancy plan and after several unsuccessful IVF procedures and a miscarriage, she looks into other options.
Jules is a young, tall, blonde, beautiful, Princeton senior. She desperately wants to help her father beat his addictions, so she goes ahead with a plan to donate her "pedigree" eggs in an effort to put her father into rehab.
Annie is a married working class mother with 2 young boys. She wants to stop living paycheck to paycheck on her husband's salary. She decides that being a surrogate is the answer to help get her family out of debt.
Bettina is 24-year old woman who is accustomed to a life of privilege. Her father just married a younger woman who calls herself India. Bettina doesn't trust her new stepmother and becomes hell-bent on proving that she is not who she says she is.
Whatever their motives, these women's lives ultimately become intertwined when things don't go as planned. Then Came You makes the proverb 'it takes a village to raise a child" come to life. The story as a whole might make the reader wonder about how we measure motherhood and how we define family.
YUMMY MUMMY BOOK CLUB
The Yummy Mummy Book Club is reading Then Came You. We will have our Twitter virtual book club chat on Wednesday, August 10th, from 9:30 -11:00 PM EDT. If you want to participate in the Then Came You chat on Twitter just follow me @YMCbookalicious and the hashtag #YMBC. We hope to tweet you there!
If you want to join the Yummy Mummy Book Club and get in on future book club perks then sign up for the Bookalicious Newsletter for more details.
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Simon & Schuster Canada has a copy of Then Came You to give to two lucky Bookalicious readers who leave a comment related to fertility.
Yummy Rules and Regulations
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until Monday, July 18, 2011. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org.
This blog is proudly sponsored by our friends at Simon & Schuster Canada"